So what is it that makes The Key® so deadly? Passionate about bait since the early 70s and arguably one of the most knowledgeable carp bait specialists there has ever been, Keith Sykes has played a pivotal role in partnership with Gary Bayes of Nashbait in bringing the best ever commercially available carp bait to the market place. Here he outlines why The Key® is different, and why it is set to rewrite the record books.
The Key® is a modern take on HNV (high nutritional value) baits, which us old timers forget that a lot of carpers today haven’t been exposed to. HNV baits are based on the principle of nutritional recognition – animals instinctively recognise the best food source because that ability is what gives them a better chance of survival. Nutritional recognition is real and there is more hard scientific evidence now than ever that it exists in many species of animals to prove this.
You either believe in nutritional recognition or you don’t, if you don’t then you need to look at nature and it will tell you in no simple terms that it does exists - it is an essential genetic instinct that the majority of humans have lost.
The Key® offers carp a better and more complete nutritional package than has ever before been possible - using better technology and better ingredients. We’ve gone from what we were doing in the 80s and brought it not just up to date but made it work in a commercial manufacturing situation. It’s is very easy from the outside to think at first this is another HNV type bait. It is far from that, everything has been analysed, we know EXACTLY what the bait provides through laboratory analysis, any deficiencies have been balanced out to provide a comprehensive food source for carp, and no expense has been spared.
“A lot of the ingredients in The Key® no-one else can get hold of, it’s a lifetime’s work not a five minute exercise...”
The choice for the biggest fish
The result of a three-year development programme, field testing results quickly told us we were on to something very special. From the beginning I wanted an inner circle of field testers to work with towards the bait we were trying to produce – they are what we call the A Team. The results have left no doubt how effective The Key® really is. Steve Sinclair on the Essex Manor was going in against massive baiting programmes from other companies and all the fish he caught were the big ones, he just wasn’t catching the smaller fish, and by that I mean he was catching 40 after 40, with the largest in the lake falling to it.
Dean Lloyd is fishing a Hertfordshire syndicate containing 16 fish, and has caught ten of them in his short time on the lake (July to September) since using The Key® – the rest of the syndicate have had ten between all of them.
The other interesting factor is that all the fish have really gained weight, something we have noticed on other waters where Key has been introduced. Ed Biscoe had one session at a very tough Surrey circuit water and had more takes in that trip than he had the entire previous season. John Elmer and his mate had the two biggest carp out from Manor at Linear Fisheries within 48 hours on The Key®. Jim Beardwell, owner of JAG, trialled the bait independently and had some incredible captures with fish to just over 45 lb from some real head banger waters. The list of remarkable captures goes on and on, just too many times for anyone to be able to believe it is a coincidence.
Everybody that’s used it has noticed the carp are straight on it and there’s no question it is the choice for picking out the biggest fish. Even at Kevin’s own Church Lake it has caught fish that hadn’t been out for a couple of years.
“He was catching 40 after 40…”
We started using enzymes in the late 70s but enzymes in carp bait is a big and sometimes complicated subject. In the very early 80s we started making progress, achieving consistency by utilising specially designed enzyme systems, specific to carp bait.
What’s the fuss about enzymes anyway? A lot of complex proteins can be wasted in bait because carp can’t digest a large percentage of them – milk proteins are a particular example. Humans have a more complex digestion system, carp have a relatively small gut and don’t have that advantage so we have to pre-digest the bait for them in order they get the most nutritional benefit from it, which they obviously do.
Developing The Key® we have designed and had manufactured a new up to date enzyme system that only acts on the targeted complex proteins in the bait, it is ingredient specific. We also binned ingredients that can inhibit the carp’s natural enzyme activity, several of which are used commercially in bait, this further enhancing the bait’s overall digestibility. More importantly boiling does not denature it, which means we are able to commercially hydrolyse the targeted parts of the bait. During this process it produces free amino acids and offers a constant feeding stimulus to carp that simply doesn’t come from boilies that don’t have this type of activity.
The Key® is cooled and then quickly frozen to keep the active enzyme in an inert state. But it’s only the equivalent of being dormant, when the bait is defrosted it continues ‘digesting’ itself, which is why it is so incredibly attractive – it keeps producing its own food signal.
Say you have an orange, the peel is locking everything you want inside, and when you peel it away you still have a solid mass. If you then strip it down into segments the segmented piece of food is easier to digest. We are providing a bait with very complex proteins and getting over the problem of digestion.
Use The Key® from frozen, and expect peak activity at eighteen to twenty four hours, with a lull before peaking again in the thirty-six hour bracket. You will see physical changes occurring to the bait, this is natural, and part of the enzyme system being used, along with the other natural attractors and ingredients used therein.
“…when the bait is defrosted it continues digesting itself.”
Vital vitamins and aminos
A vitamin and mineral compound formulated specifically for carp and an exclusive amino acid complex are also hugely important in the success of the bait. Vitamins have always been a problem in bait manufacture because they are so heat sensitive, but they make a massive difference to how well a bait works.
One of our A Team testers Gary Carter noticed very clearly the difference between the results he had with the bait when it didn’t have the vitamin compound and amino complex, he caught carp on it but in terms of big fish didn’t get the same end result. There are some things that experience has shown big carp definitely respond to. They are only included at a few grams per kilo, but they are a very important few grams if you want a bait as special as The Key®.
One real advancement in the bait composition is using protective coagulants and a very short boiling time to prevent heat sensitive vitamins being rendered useless – they are crucial from both a nutritional point of view and also attraction.
“…a very important few grams if you want a bait as special as The Key®.”
The Taste Test
The attractor package is based around hydrolysed liquids, plus several proven essential oils and a taste modifier. It’s low level and hard to put your finger on what you really smell, but to a carp the attraction is immense.
The taste of the bait is a critical area when using enzyme activity – the problem can be that breaking down complex proteins results in the potential for a bitter taste from those peptides. The Key® has been produced in such a way that we still have maximum ingredient digestion but the finished boilie remains highly palatable. The carp definitely agree!
Quality is king, not quantity
There is no compromise on quality; the best bait needs the best ingredients. At Longfield back in the 80s we saw classic examples with milk protein baits where carp just wouldn’t eat them if there was one ingredient in there that wasn’t right.
We started with a base mix in the early 80s using predominantly milks and vegetable ingredients, and now we’re using milk, animal, and highly complex vegetable proteins plus kelp for some mineral support. The formula has been tweaked over a long period to arrive at the base mix we use in The Key®.
The really critical thing that makes The Key® different is that it is rich food to a carp, and like rich foods that we eat, carp tend to eat less of them in one sitting. The Key® is not a cheap bait, because it hasn’t been designed to be sold at a certain price, but you need much, much less than you would use of other boilies.
The guys at Nash HQ are suggesting starting at 50 per cent of the quantity you feed other boilies, but we often start at 25 per cent - literally just a handful is enough to catch a lot of very difficult fish. Smaller quantities are definitely the killer tactic, which the smart carper will realise, makes apparently more expensive bait much, much better value in real terms.
“…you need much, much less than you would use of other boilies.”